John Gilbert Sports

Proctor, Ely Carry Northland Hopes to State

Amid the euphoric weekend of pro and college football successes for Minnesota teams, we also can celebrate two games that were being conducted simultaneously in Duluth. At Malosky Stadium on the UMD campus, Proctor was assigned to take on the perennial power from Pierz in the quarterfinals of the state’s Class AAA tournament.

The redoubtable Joe Carter ran for a first-quarter touchdown, and Proctor’s amazing defense went on to intercept four Pierz passes. The game was still 7-0 in the fourth quarter, however, before Proctor scored two touchdowns to take a 19-0 lead, and the Rails rode their defense to a 19-6 final score that thrusts them into the semifinals of Class AAA, Saturday against St. Croix Lutheran, in the Metrodome.
At the same time, what might be the best Floodwood team in the school’s history took its 11-0 record to Public Schools Stadium to take on Ely, also 11-0, in the quarterfinals of the state’s 9-man tournament. While 9-man can be wildly exciting, and the two teams opened up trading touchdowns, Ely took a 14-13 lead at halftime on Mark Heiman’s 20-yard run and a two-point conversion run by Louie Gerzin.

But in the second half, Floodwood could neither stop Gerzin nor keep up with him, as he ran for his second and third touchdowns of the night in the third quarter, and the Timberwolves prevailed, 41-27.
So Ely takes its 12-0 record to the Metrodome Thursday, to face Underwood in the state semifinals.

Wild, Timberwolves Roar

   When watching the NHL from afar, it’s important to pay close attention to the loss column. True, there are extra points to be had for ties that are broken in overtime or in shootouts, but in the long run, the teams that lose the fewest games will finish highest.

With that in mind, the Wild went into midweek with only four defeats, one of four teams in the potent division with four or fewer losses. There are two teams in the other Western division with four losses, also, but none in the entire Eastern Conference.

One of the more impressive victories came in Carolina, when the Wild battled to a 2-2 standoff, getting goals from Jason Pomenville and  former Bulldog Justin Fontaine. Overtime went scoreless, despite a 4-on-3 power play for the Wild. So it went to a shootout.

The Wild are notorious for failing to succeed in shootouts, so it was huge that Zach Parise sped in, threw a great deke to his backhand, and, while goaltender Justin Peters was sliding to the right, Parise wound up back at the left edge, to knock in the equivalent of a 6-inch putt. Josh Harding stopped the first Hurricane shooter, then Mikko Koivu skated in and also scored for the Wild. It came down to the third turn, and Pominville put another past Peters, clinching the shootout round 3-1, and the game 3-2.
 The Wild had never won in Raleigh, N.C., in their history, and it was their first shootout victory in four tries this season. Pominville, incidentally, has 11 goals already, while Fontaine has 6 in a great show of his talent.

The Timberwolves got off to a good start, too, but most noteworhy is that they hadn’t beaten the Los Angeles Lakers in 22 tries, but they beat them Saturday night, 113-90. We don’t even care that they next faced the L.A. Clippers and lost 109-107.

Ratings Gamesmanship

Stanford beat Oregon in a memorable encounter last Thursday, and the loss may knock Oregon out of any chance at a Bowl Championship Series showdown against Alabama. The obvious, and annoying, connection between ESPN and its blatant promotion of the Southeast Conference assures that Alabama will coast into its third straight championship game, although we can hope the Crimson Tide gets upset in one of its final games, or in the conference playoff. Next on the horizon is Florida State, which appears to be winning the Atlantic Coast Conference.

But in my mind, the PAC-12 is the strongest college football conference in the nation. Stanford lost only to Utah, which has a pretty good team despite a rocky record in the PAC-12. When Stanford, for the second year in a row, managed to harness Oregon’s comparatively awesome offense, and keep quarterback Marcus Mariotta under wraps, it proves how strong the conference really is. Mariotta, still the best player in the country, finally got free in the fourth quarter at Stanford, and with the Ducks trailing 26-0, he led them back to fall short 26-20 in a stirring finish that had silenced the huge crowd in Palo Alto.

If you hold the SEC and the PAC-12 up against each other, the SEC has Alabama leading Auburn, Texas A&M, and Louisiana State in the West Division, while Missouri has been the surprise leader in the East, over South Carolina. In the PAC-12, Oregon, Stanford, Oregon State and Washington are in the North, while Arizona State, UCLA, Southern California, and Arizona are all formidible in the South.